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Free to Use and Reuse: Travel Posters

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Faraway states, natural wonders and beautiful beaches—these are the settings that often come to mind as we start to plan our summer vacations. They also form the backdrop of hundreds of travel posters in the Library’s collections, including an assortment featured this month on the Library’s home page. The featured posters are U.S. government works, in the public domain or cleared for public use by copyright owners—meaning you can use them as you wish.

Frank Hazell’s poster of West Point as seen from the window of a train car.

Travel posters are now sometimes sold at auction for tens of thousands of dollars, but they began as ads for a burgeoning industry. Following advances in color lithography, railways began producing art-oriented posters in the late 1800s to sell seats. Steamship lines, resorts, hotels and later airlines adopted the medium as well, some employing well-known graphic artists to tempt travelers with scenes of glamour, beauty, adventure and leisure. Travel posters enjoyed the height of their popularity from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Frank Hazell (1883–1958) was a landscape artist who also worked in advertising in New York City. He painted travel posters and brochures and taught advertising art at the Grand Central School of Art. His commissions included a 1920s painting of the United States Military Academy at West Point as seen from the window of a New York Central Lines car traveling alongside the Hudson River in the autumn. The image is part of the Library’s online Artist Poster Collection. Hazell also did poster art for steamship companies and other institutions.

Katherine Milhous (1894–1977), an artist, illustrator and writer, supervised the Philadelphia Federal Art Project, a branch of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), from 1935 to 1940. Her duties included creating posters promoting Pennsylvania into which she incorporated familiar Pennsylvania Dutch designs. Several Milhous posters are included in the Library’s online collection of WPA posters. Milhous won a Caldecott Medal in 1951 for “The Egg Tree,” a children’s book she wrote and illustrated about the Pennsylvania Dutch Easter.

One of Katherine Milhous’s Pennsylvania travel posters.

This month’s featured posters are just a small sample of the Library’s digital collections that are freely available for your use. The digital collections comprise millions of items, including books, newspapers, manuscripts, prints and photos, maps, musical scores, recordings and more. Whenever possible, each collection item has its own rights statement. Please remember that rights assessment is your responsibility. For more information, see the Library’s guidance about copyright and Library collections.

Comments (16)

  1. How awesome that they are available to everyone. I can’t wait to search and find some I like!

    Thanks for sharing with everyone!

    Cary Michael Cox

  2. The LOC is a rich and vast resource … now more fun with these examples of graphic design.
    Thank you!

  3. thanks from the North

  4. Please tell me how I can get the free downloads for the travel posters.
    Thank you.

  5. Thank you for your inquiry. Click on the posters you like from the set on the Library’s home page, You will then see download options for each poster. Note that the Library has many more travel posters in its collections, Some of the posters remain under copyright protection so be sure to check the rights information on the images you select.

  6. Wendi, it is wonderful to have information gathered in a manner that we do not have to worry about copyright infringement. Thank you.

    It would be great to understand how the library could make this a practice in all its work. Copyright is such an issue for authors that having a view of materials that is free of copyright without all the research that needs to be done would be a wonderful thing.


    – Pete

  7. How can I check if a particular travel poster is copyrighted? I have found an image (luggage label) and would like to use the image in a design. How can I research this? Thank you.

  8. I would like to use some travel poster images from now-defunct airlines that are in the public domain for some crafting projects, but am unsure about restrictions involving trademark, etc. Could you please clear things up about usage in this area? Thank you.

  9. Thank you for your inquiry. You can check the online records for individual poster images for information about rights and access that may be helpful to you. But it is the researcher’s responsibility to assess copyright or other use restrictions and obtain permission from third parties when necessary before publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library’s collections. Best wishes.

  10. Great resource show casing areas not often talked about. I shall be going through the site to find what interests me.

  11. I am thoroughly confused.

    Every poster I click on is a small thumbnail, has NO download option and all say “Full online access to this resource is only available at the Library of Congress.”

    What am I missing?

  12. Thank you for your comment. We’ve added a link at the top of the post to the set of travel posters that are free to use. For more information about usage rights of items in the Library’s collections, please see the Library’s guidance about copyright and Library collections by clicking on the final link in the post. Best wishes.

  13. To Whom it may concern hello how are you i came across these beautiful templates and i was wondering if i may use them on my website but i don’t want anything copy writes thanks.

    • Yes, absolutely!

  14. Any new thing?

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